Bay tri star heading east

McGrath eyeing top spot

Nelson Mandela Bay triathlete Travis McGrath will compete in two International Triathlon Union events in China and Japan next month.
Nelson Mandela Bay triathlete Travis McGrath will compete in two International Triathlon Union events in China and Japan next month.
Image: Eugene Coetzee

Nelson Mandela Bay triathlete Travis McGrath will not be put off by the potentially world-class field on show when he competes at two International Triathlon Union events next month.

Coming off the back of a third-place finish in the elite section at the Rabat ATU Triathlon African Championships in Morocco last month, McGrath has spent the past few weeks fine-tuning his skills in preparation for his maiden races in the Far East.

With both races falling under the Asian Federation, McGrath’s first test will come when he travels to China for the Taizhou Asian Cup set for June 2.

Just over a week later, he makes his way to the Land of the Rising Sun to tackle the Osaka Sprint Asia Cup in Japan, scheduled for June 10.

“The start lists have already been published and let’s just say it’s not going to be easy.

“There are a number of big guns [Olympic and Commonwealth Games athletes] in the event, but I’m going in with confidence,” McGrath said, adding that racing was a lot harder in Asia and Europe.

“These are the cream of the crop. Many of the athletes have represented their countries at big events, but it all depends on race day, you never know what can happen on the day,” he said.

Racing under the banner of Triathlon South Africa, McGrath said as an elite racer, all events were entered through the federation.

He added that elite licences were awarded to athletes based on their points system in the various ITU races in which they competed.

“Not anyone can compete as an elite athlete under the ITU banner. The decision by respective federations to award racers elite status is based on the athlete’s results and times,” he said.

McGrath is set to fly out next week in order to recuperate from the long flights and for his body to acclimatise.

He will also be joined by his father and manager Hedley for the Japan race, which he believes will ensure he doesn’t miss home too much.

“Travel is very hard on the body, and with flights to Asia taking roughly two days to get there, it will give my body time to recoup some energy and rest.

“I’ve raced in similar conditions, but this is my first time racing in China and Japan.

“I was on holiday in Thailand and did some light training, so I know what I am in for humidity-wise,” he added.

An average week of training consists of roughly 20 to 25 hours of workouts, incorporating all three disciplines.

Add to that massages and physiotherapy, and that figure jumped to roughly 30 hours of training and conditioning a week, McGrath said.

“Honestly, I’ve had my ups and downs in training over the last four weeks, but I have learnt a lot about myself, both mentally and physically, and I think it has me a stronger athlete and hungrier for success.

“I think my prep has gone well. The next two weeks will be very important and I think my timing will be perfect come race day.

“I’ve realised that I race better on semi-tired legs as opposed to fresher ones,” the triathlete said with a chuckle. Speaking about his expectations, McGrath would be happy to finish in the top 20.

“At these events and this level of racing, the time between the winner and top 30 is a matter of seconds.

“My goal is to finish in the top 20 and know that I have left it all out there on the day,” McGrath said.